The first thing you need to do is get yourself some lettuce. You will want to use a variety that is firm and crunchy, we use cos, so that it doesn't break down too much during the fermentation process.
Thoroughly wash your lettuce between all of the layers without breaking it apart, this is best done in a sink or tub of cold water. Hold your lettuce upside down and dunk it up and down in the water, making sure that the water is gently parting the leaves and washing all the dirt out. Once clean, leave it upside down so that the excess water can drain away.
The next step is to salt the lettuce inside and out. Please do not use a cheap table salt for this, unless you want your kimchi to end up tasting cheap! We used a fine sea salt, however sea salt flakes, pink salt or Himalayan salt would all be suitable. Sprinkle the salt generously into all gaps in the lettuce and then around the outside. Let your lettuce sit covered on the bench for about an hour, until the salt has drawn out some moisture and the lettuce has begun to wilt. Rinse the lettuce to remove the salt, drain off the excess moisture and you are now ready to add your flavourings.
The flavourings you choose to use can vary according to your taste, however a base of garlic and chilli are essential. We simply blitzed garlic, red chilli, wild fennel seed and lime zest in the thermomix and then rubbed that into the gaps in our head of lettuce. Traditionally kimchi calls for fish sauce or anchovy to be added, however we don’t have access to fish sauce (we are currently trialling a batch) and we had already used up the anchovies that we preserved this year. If you wish to add some fish sauce or anchovies go right ahead, it will give it an extra layer of flavour and a little kick of umami.
This tangy and punchy kimchi makes a perfect side to any fatty meat that needs something to cut the richness. It is also great in salads, as a snack or with just about any sort of Asian dish. This will quickly become a staple in our kitchen and I can’t wait to start the next batch!